Feb 3, 2012

Posted by | 0 Comments

Oklahoma Bill Proposes Extra Tax on Violent Games

Oklahoma Bill Proposes Extra Tax on Violent Games

A new bill proposed in Oklahoma is looking to add an extra 1% tax on games deemed “violent.”  The Entertainment Software Association has described it as “patently unconstitutional” and the bill is the latest in a series of legislation targeting the video game industry.  Much like the California law that sought to ban the sale of violent video games to minors without parental consent in 2005, this new law will most likely be struck down and ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Democratic state representative William Fourkiller introduced the bill and proposed that the state of Oklahoma should attach a 1% levy (on top of existing sales taxes) to games that have been rated Teen, Mature, or Adults Only by the ESA.  His reasoning behind the bill, is that violent games promote (shocker) “violence” and oddly enough childhood obesity.  Unfortunately, the ESA ratings seem to be the only criteria in determining what games deserve an extra tax, NOT whether they’re violent or contain violent content.  This means that games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Rock Band (both ‘T’ rated titles) that obviously aren’t violent could potentially be taxed under the new bill.

In Fourkiller’s defense, the bill would help to create two new funds: the Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund for promoting outdoor education intiatives; and the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund helping to prevent bullying in schools.  Money raised from the new tax would be divided equally between the two funds.

If the bill is passed by the local House of Representatives and Senate, then signed by the governor, it would take effect come July 1.  Regardless on whether the bill is passed or not, there’s no way it would even survive due to a supreme court ruling stating that video games are a protected form of free speech.  Going forward with taxing them based on content would be illegal per the first amendment.

What’s your take on the situation?  Stepping outside of the shoes of a gamer and into those of a parents, it’s not entirely out of the question to support Fourkiller’s views.  However, his misguided bill is severely lacking in terms of knowledge on the subject matter, as well as criteria to base a bill on.  Perhaps the biggest concern I have, is that once again a state official believes that all video games are targeted towards children.  In this day and age, that simply isn’t the case and until these officials understand that, their bills and unlawful proposals will continue to be denied.

[Source: GamaSutra]